The gorgeous Nasia Zafar Koreshi hardly needs an introduction. This Islamabad-based leading couture designer has been designing since around 23 years ago. It was around the ’90s when she first moved to Islamabad from Karachi that she felt a dearth of stylish designer wear in the capital city. “I found a lack of simple yet stylish clothes as they were too opulent – overly designed and too colourful,” shares Nasia.
Blessed with finer instincts and pristine aesthetics, she decided to start her eponymous fashion label in 1998 – NZK Collection, and its atelier is in Islamabad. Ever since, it has been a success story for this gifted designer. Nasia has stocked internationally as well as locally.
She has been featured in several fashion weeks and fashion shows in Dubai, London, for French Embassy and UAE Embassy in Marriott Islamabad, Serena Islamabad, PC Burban, in Kinnaird Lahore, etc. This week, the vivacious designer gets candid with You! about designs, inspiration and much more…
You! Who has been your inspiration?
NZK: Coco Chanel is my fashion inspiration! She evolved fashion, freed fashion and introduced androgynous fashion throughout the 20th century.
You! What is your design philosophy?
NZK: My design philosophy is ‘less is more’. I like simple cuts and classic designs. Yet, I like to do things differently to make my designs look edgy. I believe fashion fades but style always stays.
You! Why do you think women should wear designer clothes?
NZK: I don’t necessarily think that women should only wear designer clothes. I think women should wear stylish clothes that reflect their personality, attitude and style. It doesn’t matter if these clothes are picked from designer stores, high-street or made at tailor shops. The idea is that you should be wearing the clothes and not the clothes wearing you!
You! What do you like best about designing clothes?
NZK: The thing I like best about designing clothes is its creative and artistic aspect. I find it fascinating the way a fashion idea or a design inspiration is brought to life in the form of a dress or outfit.
You! What was the first outfit you designed?
NZK: It was not a single outfit but an entire collection that I designed called ‘Chantilly’. The collection like the name was made with Chantilly laces, with simple elegant cuts in soft muted tones embellished with pearls, self-sequins and rhinestones. It was a refreshing change from the bright multi-coloured fashion trends popular those days.
You! How would you define your own sense of style?
NZK: My sense of style is simple, elegant yet classic and at the same time I don’t like wearing boring clothes. I like to add an individualistic or whimsical touch to my outfits.
You! What is your signature fabric you never get bored of?
NZK: I don’t have a signature fabric for the simple reason that our extreme weather doesn’t allow it. However, my preferences are chiffons, pure georgettes and raw silks.
You! Your choice of embellishments?
NZK: I just love the choice of embellishments we have at our disposal. As Pakistani designers from the traditional, the folk, and modern embellishments, we are spoilt for choice but my favourites are the traditional dabka, tilla and classic sequins, beaded pearls and rhinestones.
You! What is the inspiration behind your latest collection?
NZK: My latest wedding collection is ‘Avant-garde’ in the sense that people don’t mix print with wedding clothes. Usually the fabric is plain and then embellished with heavy embroidery. I have designed printed ghararas, lehengas or printed veils and combined them with heavily embellished shirts which makes the collection look very eclectic.
You! Do you prefer sketching designs or actually constructing them?
NZK: I love both, sketching and drawing designs on fashion coquis and then from there constructing the design into a garment from patterns and sewing.
You! What seasonal looks and colours are you expecting this winter?
NZK: The in colours according to the international fashion forecasting institutes are Mykonos blue, illuminating yellow, leprechaun green, fuchsia fedora, pale rosette, Adobe rust, fire whirl red, rhodonite purple blue, spring lake blue, root beer rust, coconut cream, soybean beige, olive branch and ultimate grey.
You! Some western fashion trends popular this season are:
NZK: ’90s Revival; Saturated hues; Loose-fit denim; Sweater vests; Midriff-baring sets; Printed pants; Puffy, quilted and textured handbags.
You! Some Pakistani fashion trends popular this season:
NZK: Long shirts with high slits; ‘Ezaar’s’ which are ankle length loose pyjamas; thread work floral embroideries; White chikankari suits and lehenga suits; long jackets, front open with short inner shirts; palazzos; capris; round damans.
You! In your opinion what is the biggest mistake Pakistani women make when dressing up?
NZK: I think the biggest mistake Pakistani women make is over dressing. When one overdresses, one tends to look uncomfortable and uneasy and also the onlookers’ eyes cannot focus on them because there’s just too much happening. Our Pakistani brides are a classic example of over dressing. There is so much going on that the girl is eclipsed under her heavy clothes, jewellery, makeup, accessories, etc.
You! What is that one trend you cannot stand?
NZK: Tulip shalwar!
You! What are the high points and low points of being a designer?
NZK: High points are the appreciation you get from clients, the creativity, and the sense of accomplishment. Low points are the stress of deadlines, dealing with tailors and embroiders, and when a design doesn’t go as expected.
You! How long does it usually take for you to design an outfit?
NZK: Designing an outfit is an elaborate process, from the conceptual fashion design idea, to creating research and mood boards, sketching coquis and fashion illustrations, making technical and patterns, dyeing and embroidering fabrics until the final cutting and sewing process. It could take a few days to three months depending on how elaborate the outfit is.
You! Your biggest accomplishment so far:
NZK: At one point our designs were being stocked in Dubai, London, Mumbai, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. We held several fashion shows and fashion weeks and held international exhibitions in UK, Dubai, India and Malaysia. Our fashion shoots and interviews were published in all the popular magazines and on TV channels. Now due to Covid-19 and economic decline, we have downscaled until economy begins to improve.
You! How do you manage to strike a balance between family and work?
NZK: It’s a very tough fight to find a balance between family and work. It’s very difficult to juggle both, but I feel women are superwomen and if they can master the art of multitasking and a bit of compromise they can manage both.
You! Future plans for you?
NZK: I’m currently working on taking my business online. My future plan is working on economy of scales and taking my business from made-to-order to pret-a-porter so our fashion is more affordable for the masses. So far, our fashion label has been exclusive and our target market has been the high end consumer.
What is the one cosmetic you cannot do without?
When stepping out, do you wear makeup all the time?
I have to wear sunscreen and lipstick.
You favourite cosmetic brands?
My go-to are Chanel, Dior, M.A.C., Benefit, Huda Beauty and The Body Shop.
What’s in your beauty bag?
Lancôme tent miracle foundation, Benefit they’re real mascara, Chanel rouge double intensite lip colour and Chanel joues contrasted blush.
Your go-to lipstick?
Chanel rouge double intensite in orange blood.
When applying makeup, what do you dread the most?
My eyeliner, I dread smearing it.
Do you go to salon regularly for your facials?
I would love to go to salons regularly for facials but I end up going only a few times a year because of my busy schedule.
Your favourite local stylist:
Your favourite international stylist:
Jen Atkin and Ted Gibson.
Your preferred spa or salon?
I prefer a spa to a salon for a total beauty, mind and body experience. My favourite spa happens to be in Thailand.
Chanel No 5.
Your beauty regimen?
I keep it simple - cleanse, tone and nourish with a rich moisturiser.
Do you believe in treatments like Botox?
Yes, if they can help keep you looking beautiful why not!
Do you prefer liberal use of makeup or minimal?
I prefer minimal use of makeup... it should enhance and bring out your features not cake up and hide your face behind a mask.
Where do you go for your makeup shopping?
I usually stock up whenever I travel abroad.
What is beauty to you?
I think real beauty is when the beauty of your heart is reflected in your eyes, your voice and your actions. A confident woman is beautiful, the way she dresses and carries herself and the happiness she radiates and spreads by her presence is real beauty to me.